I am taking a respite from the humble ramblings for the rest of this year. Some accused me of already mailing it in by recycling some previous Christmas articles. However, I had to point out to those accusers that these are holiday classics! How does a blog become a holiday classic? It is easy. Start your own site, pay the server fee and you can call your posts whatever you want. Plus recycling those posts kept me from having to purchase carbon offsets to reduce my blogosphere carbon footprint. To be safe, I did plant a Chia pet.
To placate my sometimes needy tens of readers I have compiled a Baker’s Dozen of the most read articles of 2008. There is a snippet from each article and we begin with number thirteen.
A tune by Kenny Chesney is chock full of catchy rhythms and bad theology. The song is called Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven but the underlying theme is that nobody wants to go there right now. I think that is true for most of us. As long as God allows I want to live and serve here while I enjoy family and friends.
But what caught my ear was the theology. I am aware that Kenny Chesney is not a theologian so I am not throwing him under his tour bus. I found it interesting because the song reflects the theology of many people and churches in this nation. It used to be mine.
I am a little too old and lot too cynical to be swept away by the latest fad in Christendom. I have sat on the sidelines while Jabez prayed, millions were purpose driven and others found their best life. I guess I was just left behind. Others were incredibly excited by one or all of these phenomenons.
So I was more than a little surprised to find that God has rocked my world through a ministry I knew little about.
This series is not about being a perfect dad. If it were, I would be totally unqualified to write it. This series is not about piling guilt on you for mistakes made. I am not looking for the result like the boy who said to his preacher on the way out, "Boy, that was a good sermon. My dad slumped way down today." This series is seeing what God’s plan is for leaving a positive legacy as an earthly father.
One central idea makes me shout AMEN loudly. That idea is that Evangelicals should be defined theologically and not politically, culturally or socially. Since I am not smart enough to produce a document as eloquent as the Evangelical Manifesto I have decided to issue my own smaller brain version.
I love this story. It is a wonderful metaphor for how the church should function. The Central Washington team could have stood by and done nothing. The players could have offered sympathy. They could have sadly noted how tough life can be. But they chose action. Compassion. And they chose sportsmanship that is extraordinary.
There is a good lesson for followers of Jesus. Caring is often appreciated but action is never forgotten. Too often we substitute a half sincere word of sympathy or we seek the emergency exit I have too often used. “I will pray for you.”
I stumbled upon a fascinating History Channel feature on Ben Franklin. I knew Franklin as a brilliant statesman, inventor, writer and a bit of a scoundrel. But I did not know that in his autobiography the venerable statesman admitted a radical plan.
“I once conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.”
Wonder how that worked out?
Some say that any words other than taking the Lord’s name in vain are merely words. There is some truth to that. Jesus made it clear that what is in our heart is really the issue. So if you have profanity in your heart you might as well let’er rip. Right? Paul again moves from meditation to meddling with some more words to the church at Ephesus.
I often get e-mails asking me to boycott, email, complain and mobilize to help stop an offensive program or event. I rarely respond. Am I a bad Christian? Do I not care? If you haven’t already launched a angry missive full of misspellings in my direction please allow me to discuss.
(In response to an advertising campaign by American atheists)
I am sure that many Christians will be offended and make a ruckus about the campaign. I would suggest that you proceed cautiously and with grace. Angry Christians only confirm the perception of people of faith. I have long felt that billboards and road signs make little difference in people’s faith decisions.
In my neighborhood a local restaurant has this message on the marquee.
I am sure their intentions are good but I don’t think that many people are being influenced toward faith by this sign. I can report the chicken special was excellent so that does give them some credibility. Nonetheless, I think most people’s decisions on such matters go a little deeper than a restaurant marquee or bus ad. So protesting this campaign is a battle not worth fighting in my view. I would rather mature in the grace of Christ Jesus and see if that will influence more people than even the chicken special sign.
The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics were truly spectacular. The creative genius of the program and disciplined performers left me awestruck. But a news story the next day left me more than a little angry.
This week marked a couple of rites of spring. The reporting of pitchers and catchers to spring training and the arrival of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. For me one is a “right” of spring and the other is becoming a “wrong”. I was on the road when the swimsuit issue arrived at my home. The lovely Mrs.Burchett led me into a marital minefield with this simple statement.
“Your swimsuit issue arrived today.” She waited. Work brain, work! Must step carefully. Following the lead of Nehemiah I “prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered”. My response was simple.
“Throw it away.”
One of the dangers of Christian blogging is dealing with the spiritual hall monitors who seem to live only to smack your heretical knuckles with their ruler of truth. So I risk their wrath (carefully chosen word) with today’s post.
The novel The Shack has begun a wave of debate, hand-wringing, defensiveness and condemnation in Evangelical circles. The book has been called dangerous, subversive and heretical by many critics.
A news story this week from Christianity Today amused me. The headline was provocative.
Super Tuesday Results Show Split Between Evangelicals and Their Spokesmen
I am an amateur evangelical anthropologist. Like Jane Goodall I go into their habitats and study their behaviors. Since I am one of the species it is easy to assimilate into their culture. My first journal, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, was a result of my time spent with these fascinating creatures. From my observations a couple of immediate questions came to mind as I read the headline in Christianity Today.
I hope you found something to enjoy on that list. I will be back bringing sporadic joy and intermittent wisdom in the New Year.
Happy Holidays! May Grace Abound In Your Life!